Frieze Issue 125 September 2009
Theorist Sylvère Lotringer talks to Nina Power about art and the market, the failings of capitalism and how radical thinking can help us survive ‘the system’
Sylvère Lotringer, Baja California, Mexico (2009). Photograph: Iris Klein
How to survive the [capitalist] system. As an artist?
NP In The Conspiracy of Art, the book you collaborated on with Jean Baudrillard in 2005, you talk about the devil’s pact between art and markets, and how it’s no longer possible to separate them.
SL: …There may be something special about art after all: it is the minion of capital. This was exactly what Baudrillard had in mind when he accused the art world of ‘insider trading’, and he chose his words carefully. Art is still claiming a special privilege, and behaving as if it had one. But that was pure arrogance on its part, and Baudrillard deflated it roundly in the best Situationist tradition by asserting that art was null – meaning that it had no more ‘distinctive’ qualities. That was a deliberate provocation, and part of his strategy, which consists of pushing the system to the limit until it collapses. And he was right in that respect: withdraw this sense of privilege, and art would be just like anything else. Nietzsche always urged us to shake down what is unsteady. What is crumbling down is a certain idea of art.